There Will Be No Peace Without Canada


Adams slouched in an elbow chair,  snoring softly. Jay set down his pen. He sprinkled the wet ink with sand, blew it off in cloud that also extinguished his candle. He held up the document.

“Mr. Adams,” he said. “I’ve finished.”

Adams started up, blinking. “The proposal? Excellent.” He stood and stretched, not much taller standing than seated. “Let us show it to Franklin.”

“Where might he be?”

“I’ve an idea. Come.”

Jay followed Adams through the gilt halls of the palace and out into the blinding sunshine of the gardens. The familiar rumpled figure of Franklin was seated next to the fountain, his gouty foot raised on a bench. Adams strode over, the paper in hand.

“This is it, then?” said Franklin.

Adams nodded.

Franklin took it and read. “But you’ve left out Canada.” Franklin’s tired eyes blazed with anger. “There will be no peace without they give us Canada.”


What Pegman Saw

The Peace of Paris was signed at the Palace of Versailles on September 3rd, 1783  by representatives of King George III and representatives of the United States of America. It formally ended the American Revolutionary War.
Negotiating for the new United States were John Adams, John Jay, and Benjamin Franklin. The initial talks began in April, but John Jay realized he could get a better deal for his country by negotiating directly with the British (who rightly saw the former colonies as a valuable trading partner).
Franklin pressed for the annexation of Canada, but was persuaded to settle for all of the area east of the Mississippi River, north of Florida, and south of Canada. The United States also gained fishing rights off Canadian coasts in exchange for allowing British merchants and Loyalists to try to recover property seized during the war.
Not bad for their first treaty.

Inner Man


Since my seventieth birthday I have assiduously avoided mirrors. I find it is better for me not to remind myself of my appearance, for it belies my inner man.

This is not to say that I have the boundless vigor and flexibility of youth, but I certainly feel better than the shrunken visage of sparse white hair and sagging skin my barber tries to show me.

But what of the myriad youthful ambitions that shaped me and drove my life? Let me say that a swimmer who has safely reached the shore doesn’t pine for the struggle of nearly drowning.


Friday Fictioneers



When Tamura Takashi was growing up, his grandmother told stories of the terrible night American bombers turned the sacred city of Nagoya into a lake of fire.

“The next morning was so odd,” she said. “There was nothing left. No buildings, no trees, no people. Only miles of ashes as far as the eye could see.”

Takashi felt lucky to be born in a time when Japan was at peace with the world and such things belonged in the history books.

But when he exited the train at the Shinchi station as he had many times before, he had the same odd feeling his grandmother described. There was nothing left of the resort where his girlfriend had worked for two years. No shops, no trees, no buildings.

Her cellphone had been found a mile inland containing a final text he had never received: So much tsunami. Do not forget me.


What Pegman Saw


On Friday, March 11, 2011, the  9.0 ōhoku Earthquake off the coast  of Japan created a tsunami that killed more than 15,000 people. Many of the survivors never found out what happened to their loved ones.



Gone Like a Train


Soft words about how she’s waiting
only made it worse. As though her going
never counted for shit
as though it was only a step in a direction.

Why’d they say that I want to know
the part about her waiting was just to get me
to stop crying, but I think about it now all the time
picture her sitting in some station watching the door



The Daily Post: Serene


Mr Nervous


Our first winter on the farm, Ellie kept seeing him. We thought she had an overactive imagination spurred by too much television, but Ellie was insistent that Mr. Nervous was real. We would hear her talking to him, open the door. “He just left,” she’d say.

Odd things began to happen. Lights coming on in empty rooms, then shutting off as you opened the door.  Fragments of conversation drifting down the stairs.

One night I looked toward the barn and saw a boy swinging from a rafter, the rope around his neck. I ran out to help him. No boy.



Friday Fictioneers

What I Wanted To Believe


My memory was going.

That’s what I wanted to believe.

I kept losing time. Two hours, then three, then a whole day.

I would be in one place and then I would be in another with no memory of how I got there.

I talked to my husband about it.

He said I was working too hard.

We should go on holiday, he said.

He went online and found a nice bed and breakfast on the Isle of Wight.

Remote. Picturesque. We would get away from it all, he said.

It was delightful. Fresh air, the sea, endless meadows.

The strain of my London job fell away from me like an old coat.

We went for a walk outside the castle.

I smiled at my husband and heard the sound again, that familiar yet strange sound coming from everywhere and nowhere.

Once again I remembered as I began to float away.


What Pegman Saw

Things Take Time


She swore the trench knife
she carried in her purse

saved her life hitchhiking home.
She weighed maybe

eighty pounds
dirty tight clothes

that dared anyone to say shit
took the dirty spoon from my

dried-up cereal bowl
wiped it on her leg

tapped out a pile of yellow powder
from a film can

water from my night-glass
holding a match so it bubbled

asked if I ever wore a tie
I said no but

I had bought one
for Dad and hadn’t mailed it yet.

Gimme it, she said. You can
have it back. With a long nail

slit the Christmas paper
and unfurled the crimson silk,

wrapped it tight about her bicep
told me true terrible stories

waiting for a vein to rise
slapping her arm

put a dot of cotton wool
into the heated spoon

to soak it up
crimped the syringe in her teeth

filled it with one hand
held up her chicken arm

talking talking talking
almost ecstatic

“This looks dangerous
but it’s safe as babies.

I never wanted to stop
and you won’t either.”

Years ago she showed me
how to smoke.

I was bad at it,
coughing, awkward

She said I’d get it
this transformation

some things she said
just take time.



The Daily Post: Transformation



After the funeral, I made arrangements for the bills to come to my office.

Every month, I paid her rent, her electric, even her phone.

At least once a day I would call her number and pretend she might answer it, hear her voice on the answering machine.

At first I left messages, but then I couldn’t.

I’d turned her apartment into a time capsule.

A shrine.

In September I got a letter that her lease was up.

Time to face it.

I needed to move on.

I stood at her door a long time, key poised in my hand.


Friday Fictioneers

El Advino Viejo


Ramón walked across the plaza. The birds no longer sang of hope. Now their noise mocked him, told him what he was. What he would always be.

Up ahead the old man was still sitting at his little table in the shade, the same old man who’d offered to tell Ramón his fortune earlier, when Ramón’s future seemed so bright.

He had told the old man that there was no time, but really he was early for the interview. There was plenty of time.

Ramón wondered now if telling the old man this lie had somehow cursed him. He wondered if knowing one’s fortune could alter it. He wondered if it was not too late.

The old man sat at his table, the greasy deck of cards before him. He looked up at Ramón with ancient black eyes, beckoned for him to sit.

Ramón felt in his pocket for the coins.


What Pegman Saw

Mid November


It’s November again and all over the USA, writers are midway through the marathon of National Novel Writing Month, known cordially as NaNoWriMo. We call it Nano, but some people call it  goddamn it’s four in the morning on a weekday and why did I agree to do this? 

The goal of Nano is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. When I first heard of it, I thought it was insane. I’d never written more than ten pages of anything in my life. Even my poems were short. The idea of producing an entire novel seemed as feasible as eating an entire ham. Raw.

But I had started a novel when my father died that July. It seemed a fitting tribute, even though I knew he’d never read it.  He and I both had a fanatical interest in World War 2 aircraft and never passed an air museum we didn’t visit. I wanted the book to be a story about a bombardier who gets shot down after a harrowing series of missions over Germany. Beyond that, I really had no idea what would happen.

Nano sounded like a dare. I had  written about 20,000 words written by the end of October, so I figured what the hell. I had recently lost my job and my kids had moved away to love with their mom in New Jersey, so it was literally swim or sink into the self-pitying morass that has dogged me my whole life. I got to it.

I soon found the rhythm and  blasted out two, three and even four thousand words a day. The benefits of unemployment are sparse, but ample writing time is among them. I wrote and wrote, amazing myself. I was on a roll. The story was coming together. There was a love interest and a villain, plus a whole new section of material that was never part of the original idea and yet seemed to move the novel forward.

Sure, I got stuck a bit here and there, but I plowed on. Stephen King likens it to driving in the night fog with your headlights illuminating the fifty feet of pavement in front of you. King says that when you feel this way, there’s only one thing to do: step on the gas, with both feet of necessary.

I finished my 50,000 before Thanksgiving but kept right on going. Around mid January I wrapped the book up. 135,000 words. A masterpiece, I thought.

Then I read what I had written.

Oh boy.

The word disappointment  has its roots in the French, desappointer  originally meaning “to be ill-equipped for a task,” and thus un-appointed to complete it. These days it is our go-to way to express expectations unmet. Nebulous expectations are to resentment what cookie dough is to cookies.

I had these ideas of how good my book was. Pretty much done, I thought to myself. Of course, I edited it right away and made only glancing revisions.

I was wrong. It wasn’t done. Three more huge revisions lay ahead, months and months of work and restructuring. I wrote a sequel, and then sequel to that.  I pulled the book from self-publication and hired an editor, then did more revision. I changed the title. I changed the ending. I started querying it. It’s frustrating, but I have come to see it in a new way. I appreciate this book more than I did when I had just finished it. It’s not a masterpiece, but for a first novel, it’s not bad.

None of it would have happened had I not cranked out that anchor 50,000 words in November 2013. I have taken part in every NaNoWriMo ever since. It’s not so much for the sense of community as to give some shape to a nebulous, never-ending process.

I am on novel five this month. So far, so good. It’s another sequel. I hear series characters have some legs.